[Ip-health] New York Times: Trump Just Signed the U.S.M.C.A. Here’s What’s in the New NAFTA.

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jan 30 02:51:03 PST 2020


Trump Just Signed the U.S.M.C.A. Here’s What’s in the New NAFTA.

A trade agreement with Mexico and Canada revises Mexico’s labor laws and
encourages more auto production in North America.

By Ana Swanson and Jim Tankersley

Jan. 29, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Trump signed the revised North American Free Trade
Agreement into law on Wednesday, fulfilling a campaign promise to rewrite
“one of the worst trade deals” in history.

“Today we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare,” Mr. Trump said during a
White House signing ceremony, calling the new trade deal a “colossal
victory” for farmers, factory workers and other countries.

Much of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement simply updates the
25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, with new laws on
intellectual property protection, the internet, investment, state-owned
enterprises and currency.


Less protection for drug companies

In a major concession to Democrats, the Trump administration agreed to pare
back certain protections for an advanced and very expensive class of drugs
called biologics. The final agreement removes a provision that had offered
the drugs 10 years of protection from cheaper alternatives in both Canada
and Mexico.

The agreement expands other protections for intellectual property rights,
for example, extending the 50 years of protection for copyrights in NAFTA
to 70 years. It also includes new criminal penalties for theft of trade
secrets, including cybertheft.

In a major win for tech firms, it gives internet companies like Facebook
and YouTube certain protections from lawsuits related to the user content
posted on their platforms. It also sets new standards by prohibiting
governments from asking tech companies to disclose their source code or put
duties on electronic transmissions.


Ending a special system of arbitration for companies

One of the biggest areas of contention stemmed from the mechanisms that
companies and governments could turn to when they believed another party
had violated NAFTA.

In a major change, the U.S.M.C.A. rolls back a special system of
arbitration that allowed companies to sue governments for unfair treatment.
The provision was criticized both by the Trump administration, which said
it encouraged outsourcing, and by Democrats, who said it gave corporations
too much power to challenge environmental and consumer regulations.

The system can no longer be used in disputes between the United States and
Canada and is limited to disagreements between Mexico and the United States
that involve a narrow range of industries, including petrochemicals,
telecommunications, infrastructure and power generation.

Other systems for settling disputes between governments were basically
maintained. The Trump administration ultimately gave up on an effort to
eliminate the so-called Chapter 19 provision, which gives the three
countries a neutral way to challenge one another’s tariffs and other
actions. The administration also gave in to Democratic demands for removal
of a provision that would have allowed any country to block a case against
it from moving forward, if it so wished.

But the U.S.M.C.A. retains a more controversial addition by the Trump
administration — a sunset clause that requires the three countries to
review, after six years, whether to remain in the agreement. If any country
decides not to continue with the pact, the U.S.M.C.A. will expire 16 years

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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